This is a big responsibility to speak about highways of Uzbekistan. Not because there are enough problems in this sphere or, on the contrary, the large scale of implemented works is tremendous. That is why sketchy awareness of the strategic significance of automobile roads for our country does not allow interpreting correctly both problems and achievements in the sphere.
Uzbekistan is one of the landlocked countries. All landlocked countries face the challenge of the most efficient use of automobile roads in order to establish economic and cultural partnership with other countries. Indeed, autoroads play an important role in economic and cultural development of any state.
The condition of road shows the level of economic and cultural development of any country. For example, since the 30s years of the last century the USA, Germany and China have paid considerable attention to create road networks; and this issue is still on the agenda. Road construction is of strategic relevance for Uzbekistan, as roads are not only the core of the economy but, as it was mentioned above, they build a transit corridor and provide other countries with access to the sea! Moreover, in Uzbekistan there had recently been no internal road connecting Fergana valley with other regions of the republic.
Initially, the legal framework of road construction and maintenance has been created to address these needs. In July 3, 1992 the Law on the Roads of the Republic of Uzbekistan was passed. The law has defined the following: regulation of social relationship in sphere of designing, building, reconstruction and use of roads and also relationship between the authorities responsible for road traffic, the GAI (traffic police) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and road users, legal protection of roads for interests of the state, society and population.
Building of Uzbek national highway has become the next important step. The highway connects north-western territories with eastern territories, southern and northern regions, and also serves as the international road. The project scope included the construction of 4-strip highway with concrete covering and asphalt pavement responding to international standards, and reconstruction of the road through the Kamchik pass. Implementation of this major project has become a historic step in creation of a modern transport infrastructure.
However, the construction of these roads has not provided for the access to the sea. To achieve real objective it was necessary to develop cooperation with other countries and organisations concerned, to bring global attention to the favourable transit possibilities of Uzbekistan. Therefore, in the Conference on European Security and Cooperation hold in Helsinki on July 14, 1992 the First President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, noted the importance of reconstruction of the Great Silk Road and underlined that Uzbekistan would use its full potential in this sphere. In particular, Islam Karimov expressed interest in construction and reconstruction of Andizhan-Osh-Ergashtom-Kashgar road and Bukhara-Serahs-Meshed-Karachi road leading to China and Pakistan. Construction of these highways provides for the access to Pacific and Indian Oceans and, the most important thing, the highways shorten in three times the distance to member-countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Keeping in mind the above said, the agreement on joint construction of Tedzhen-Serahs road was signed on September 13, 1991.
In Ashkhabad in May 1992 the leaders of seven countries of the East have signed the agreement on construction of the international highways: Tedzhen-Serahs-Meshhed (Trans-Asia) and Istanbul-Teheran-Islamabad-Ashkhabad-Tashkent-Bishkek-Almaty. The leaders of Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia have signed agreements related to Trans-Caucasus road which is a single transport corridor to Europe.
In May 1993 the representatives of the European Commission and countries of the Central Asia and Caucasus met in Brussels to consider the issues of transport and communication systems development. They have adopted “Declaration on the Creation of the International Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia (TRACECA)” that would connect Europe and Asia.
Uzbekistan has become a member of international road organizations: on August 29, 1995 our country has joined the World Road Congress being the first among the Central Asian countries and has been admitted to the International Road Federation, World Road Association and the Intergovernmental Council of Roadmen of the CIS countries.
At the same time, international programs did not fully satisfy the interests of Uzbekistan. Two official commissions of the United Nations — the UNESCAP (Asia) and the UNECE (Europe) — have prepared the scheme of primary roads for the map of the Central Asia and indicated only two directions: Osh-Tashkent-Samarkand-Bukhara-Nukus-Beyneu and Bukhara-Guzar-Termez-Dushanbe. In the transport corridor ТРАСЕCА, prepared under the TASIS European Union program, two primary roads have been also specified; however, the direction of Osh-Tashkent-Samarkand-Buhara-Nukus-Beyneu has been changed towards Bukhara-Mary-Tedzhen.
This is obvious that these two official documents did not consider a geopolitical position of Uzbekistan in the Central Asia and economic and social interests of our country. For that reason, on August 18, 1999 the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan has adopted the Resolution “On construction designing of Andizhan-Tashkent-Nukus-Kungrad highway”. Implementation of the project under this Resolution would transform a transport network of our country into the integral part of a transcontinental Europe-Asia highway.
This direction is essential. It connects Europe till ocean border of Asia, comes from the Georgian port Poti through Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan to the eastern ports of China, and it has recognized advantages in comparison with alternative directions. As the First President of our country, Islam Karimov, has underlined, this direction serves not just to develop economy, but makes a major contribution to ensuring peace, stability and security in the region.
This 5 billion USD project includes 2 294 km of highway, 1 492 km of which are for speed of 150 km/h and 802 km are made up by collector roads connecting cities. Throughout the highway it has been planned to construct 18 large bridges, over 60 average and small bridges and over 300 overpasses.
Functioning of this highway provides for certain facilities to people living in regions and cities of Uzbekistan; creates preconditions to construct new industrial centres along the road, fully use of available natural resources, reduction of difference between developed and developing regions, improve economic standards and cultural level of the population. It will be of great importance for the decision of such problems as: ensuring employment, prevention of reduction of planted acres due to new construction, lowering dense population in some regions. Quality roads provide for extended operating life of vehicles, lowering fuel consumption, increasing interest of foreign investors and tourists, development of favorable investment environment, improvement of export, import and transit cargo potential of the country.
With efforts of Uzbekistan the attention of the world community has been focused on the issue of reconstruction and development of the Great Silk Road. There have been two conferences devoted to this subject held in Tashkent on April 5, 1999 and on September 20-22 of the last year. The conference of the International Road Federation organized in Tashkent in 2016 considered the questions of restoration of the Great Silk Road; participants commended the initiatives of Uzbekistan, as positive influence of this road on strengthening of economic potential of the member-states has been unconditionally recognised.
In our country road construction has received a new impetus to development. New equipment and machinery were acquired in such countries as Germany, Italy, Sweden and Russia. Local specialists successfully adopt foreign practices. This promotes for quality improvement of constructed roads, reducing construction period and extending the period of road usage. Tunnels of Tashkent-Osh road constructed in the Kamchik pass have no analogues. Traffic capacity of this road makes daily 20-22 thousand vehicles and 150 thousand passengers.
Large scale works on road construction have been implemented under a five-year program approved by the Resolution No. PP-1103 of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated April 22, 2009 “On measures for reconstruction and development of the Uzbek national highway for 2009-2014” and the program approved by the Resolution No. PP-1446 of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated December 21, 2010 “On accelerating the development of infrastructure, transport and communication construction in 2011-2015”.
Works on this issue are currently underway as per the Resolution No. PP-2313 of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated March 6, 2015 “On the Program of development and modernization of engineering-communication and road-transport infrastructure for 2015-2019”. Today Uzbekistan is one of the highest ranking republics of the former Soviet Union in density of road network and road length per 1000 people. Our country has moved up to the fifth place from the ninth in the rank of stretch of roads per 1000 sq. km.
Undoubtedly, since gaining independence large-scale works have been undertaken to develop road-transport infrastructure. However, over time new challenges have emerged in this sphere. In particular, road policy conducting, construction plans development, providing their funding, quality control and system of effective road usage, in certain cases, do not meet modern requirements. Occurred situation has required developing concrete and effective measures in all directions of road facilities.
In pursuing these aims, the Decree No. UP-4954 of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated February 14, 2017 “On measures on the further improvement of road facilities management system” has been adopted. The Decree has instituted a full-fledged customer service with the responsibility for creating effective management road facilities system on the basis of the comprehensive approach to designing, construction and usage of highways and engineering structures, enhancement of funding system, quality improvement of design and road construction works. The State Committee on Automobile Roads of the Republic of Uzbekistan has been set up by the Decree as the successor of the defunct road construction and usage State Joint Stock Company (“Uzavtoyul” SJSC) created in 2003. The Decree has also provided for establishment of the State Inspectorate for control over quality of road-building works under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
The Resolution No. PP-2776 of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated February 14, 2017 “On organization of activities of the State Committee on Automobile Roads of the Republic of Uzbekistan and Republican Road Fund under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan” has been adopted for the purpose of effective usage of the state financial resources directed to upgrade the structure of road enterprises and improve their operational efficiencies through training highly qualified specialists. The Resolution, in particular, provides that Tashkent Institute of Design, Construction and Exploitation of Automobile Roads and specialized vocational colleges are to be transferred under the control of the State Committee on Automobile Roads of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
Construction of new housing units, growth of cities and increase in number of vehicles require taking practical measures on radical improvement of local highways condition. The issue on the agenda today is quality improvement of rural highways, streets of cities and roads of settlements, kishlaks and auls, and bringing them into condition that meets requirements of road safety.
However, annual financing, allotted to implement quality repair and proper maintenance all rural roads, is not always sufficient. Regional and city road enterprises are also not sufficiently supplied by road-maintenance equipment, material and primary resources.
The Resolution of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On measures on implementation of the Program on the development of regional highways for 2017-2018” has been issued with a view of bringing surface of regional roads and highways into proper condition, quality improvement of their usage, further modification of road and transport infrastructure, providing population with comfortable living and working conditions, especially in rural regions. The Resolution stipulates the achievement of the following objectives:
● in 2017-2018 carrying out of capital repair and running maintenance of 5 454 km of inter-farm rural roads, streets of cities, settlements, kishlaks and auls, including 2 700 km in 2017 and 2 754 km in 2018;
● providing organisations specializing in repairing regional roads with equipment in the number of 330 units to carry out running maintenance;
● conducting staged inventory and technical classification of all available republican highways, development of electronic database.
The full commissioning of Uzbek national highway will provide 60-70% growth in the volume of cargo and passenger transportation and increase in international and transit road transportation on average by 45-55%. Spillover effect includes significant reducing of traffic accidents and negative impact of road traffic complex on the environment. It will, certainly, safe time and minimize fuel costs. Road infrastructure will be definitely improved.
Implementation of government programs testifies to the beginning of a new stage in the sphere of road construction. This has been reflected in comprehensive plans of the current year – “the Year of dialogue with the people and human interests”. Development of modern and improved road infrastructure is the major strategic objective underlying the prosperity of a social society. Straight and wide roads are not only a part of attractiveness of the country, but they can also be defined as blood vessels of national economy and the key criteria of the further progress.
First Deputy Chairman
State Committee on Automobile Roads
Republic of Uzbekistan